Principality BS backs paper statements campaign
Principality Building Society has become the first financial services firm to back a new campaign aimed at preserving customers' right to receive a paper statement.
The UK's sixth largest Building Society says that by adopting the Keep Me Posted pledge it will be "protecting the rights of its 500,000 customers" to receive fee-free paper statements.
The Keep Me Posted campaign has been launched by a coalition of more than 40 organisations such as mental health charity Mind, DementiaUK, the Personal Finance Education Group, and the National Consumer Federation.
In Wales, the Welsh Senate for Older People and Care and Repair Cymru are involved - Principality is the largest building society in Wales.
Keep Me Posted's 'Right to Choose' pledge means customers will continue to receive free monthly paper statements unless they specifically opt for online-only statements. It also guarantees that customers will not be charged for duplicate statements which are sometimes needed if customers are, say, applying for mortgages, visas and other products.
Judith Donovan CBE, chair of the Keep Me Posted campaign, said: "Many financial services companies are making a silent shift away from monthly paper statements and towards a preference for online only billing. In doing so, they have ignored those customers most reliant on paper.
"Principality have become the trailblazer for other financial services to follow, and we hope that many other companies will follow their lead and protect the right of customers to choose how they are communicated with, without fear of penalty."
Research conducted by Opinium Research in May 2013 showed that 44% of Britons believe that their financial records would be incomplete without paper statements, 41% worry that they might miss a payment if they didn't receive paper statements, and 81% of UK adults want to choose how they receive their information.
Hannah Poulton, head of multi-channel communications at Principality, said: "As an organisation owned by and run for the benefit of our members and customers, we are committed to listening to their needs. While we recognise that the growth in internet and mobile application is changing the way that some of our members like to do business, many of them continue to tell us that they value traditional paper-based services."
In April 2011, the Payments Council had to make a u-turn on its 2009 decision to abolish paper cheques in 2018 as a result of a Treasury Select Committee inquiry following pressure from consumer groups and charities.
This is a mutual organisation owned by its members and not by shareholders. These societies offer a range of financial services but have historically concentrated on taking deposits from savers and lending the money to borrowers as mortgages, hence the name. In the mid-1990s many societies “demutualised” and became banks. One academic study (Heffernan, 2003) found demutualised societies’ pricing on deposits and mortgages was more favourable to shareholders than to customers, with the remaining mutual building societies offering consistently better rates. In 1900, there were 2,286 building societies in the UK; in 2011, there are just 51.